Managing performance is not always easy. At times, it can be challenging, and people can make it challenging, but the modern manager ignores performance management at their own peril.
Top Ten Performance Management Myths
I hear so many odd comments by managers I have put together some of my favourite myths about performance management and excuses for not managing performance.
Excuse 1: My staff do not want to be performance managed
Reality check: The majority of people like to have, expect and want feedback on their performance. People like to know how they are doing, how they can improve what they have done well.
Excuse 2: I am too busy and do not have time to waste on performance management
Reality check: Investing time in performance management provides a great return on investment (ROI) as it improves relationships, clarifies expectations and avoids misunderstandings.
Excuse 3: It is about managing bad performance.
Reality check: Performance management is not only about improving unsatisfactory performance; it is about rewarding and encouraging good performance and assisting team members to improve and to excel.
Excuse 4: As a manager, what I say goes, therefore I do not have to give employees feedback because I just tell them that their performance is unsatisfactory performance – if they do not improve, then they can go.
Reality check: Employees are entitled to expect feedback and support from you. The days of ‘macho’, command and control management are in the past. In most countries, under employment legislation and regulatory frameworks, employers are obliged to inform them and support employees if performance is unsatisfactory and only then can disciplinary action be taken.
Excuse 5: It is easier to ignore under-performers and move them onto someone else to manage or just ignore them all together.
Reality check: It might seem easier at the time: but it is not in the long term. Ignored under performance rarely goes away and then it becomes increasingly more difficult to tackle. If you knowingly ignore an under performing employee you are abrogating your managerial responsibilities and could even be liable to disciplinary action yourself – in effect, you will be under performing as a manager.
Excuse 6: It is risky and uncomfortable talking to team members about the need to improve their performance: they might cry and be upset, abusive towards me, or even cause trouble with other team members.
Reality check: Of course, you might feel uncomfortable providing feedback, but often how people respond is triggered by how you approach and deliver the feedback. If you come across angry or negative or highly critical, then you might reasonably expect people to be defensive (or even to become aggressive). By avoiding giving feedback to somebody because they might be upset or might try to cause trouble with other team members sends the wrong message to your team. By not addressing the performance issue, you risk losing the trust and respect of other team members who are performing and they deserve better from you.
Excuse 7: I only need to do performance management once a year when the HR department chases me up.
Reality check: Performance management is a valuable tool that you should be using on a daily basis – the annual appraisal is only one very small part of the performance management cycle. By choosing not to manage performance, you are often increasing your own stress levels as problems remain unresolved, meaning that you have to work harder to make up for the shortfall of others.
Excuse 8: I see my team members every day, so I do not need to use performance management.
Reality check: The type of discussions that you have as part of day-to-day activities are unlikely to have the same focus as a performance management discussion. Effective performance management involves exploring and sharing ideas and feedback, reflecting on performance and the effectiveness of processes with the aim of continuous improvement.
Excuse 9: Performance management is a waste of time because people never change.
Reality check: How can people change if they do not know that something needs to be changed or improved; how to improve it; and why it needs to be improved?
Excuse 10: Some people are just not up to the job and do not want to do a good job.
Reality check: I have never yet met anyone who deliberately comes to work to do a bad job. As a management trainer, I believe most people are capable of improving their performance if they are provided with the right support, knowledge, tools and resources, which includes time and encouragement. They may never be top performers, but they are capable of more – we all are.
The last excuse or myth that I often encounter from managers is that “I am a manager and I do not need to be performance managed”. This is clearly wrong as we all benefit from feedback, encouragement and direction. If you have not had regular performance management, now would be a GREAT time to ask your manager to start.